Wine writing: I am officially on my way!

At last: the first session of EV 140! EV stands for the Enology and Viticulture department at Walla Walla Community College. The class I signed up for, you may recall, is titled “Writing for Wineries.” I have officially entered the hallowed grounds of wine writing!


I like writing stories, but will we have to do weird stuff like diagram sentences?


Thankfully this does not appear in the syllabus, 9. The class is focused on the kinds of writing a winery needs for marketing purposes. And, in spite of this being a business type of writing, you’ll be glad to know (as I certainly am) that the very basis of writing for wineries is story.


You mean we get to make things up? Like a winemaker has a magic horse that can fly and a bunch of witches find out and- –


Not that kind of story- -the story of the winery and the wine and the people who make the wine. How they make it and why they make it and why they believe this makes their wine stand out from all the rest.


It sounds more like Mr. McClurken’s journalism class and the 5Ws- -who, what, when, where and why.


I think you’re right about that, Lily.


Our first class was an overview of the next nine weeks, biographical information about the instructor, and a presentation on the elements of good writing. Many topics are the same for business writing as for fiction. Here are a few:


*Use specific word choices instead of clichés

*Write to emotionally engage the reader

*Cut words, sentences, paragraphs that aren’t absolutely necessary

*Read your draft out loud before you make final revisions to uncover awkward constructions


I hear you doing that last one all the time when you’re writing something!


So you know first-hand: when I stumble over a sentence or a phrase it needs to be rewritten.




I’m not sure how many students are in the class. Eleven were present at the Zoom session Tuesday afternoon. Attendance is encouraged though not required because the lectures are recorded and available online for people who can’t make it. Hopefully I will have the next nine Tuesdays from 3:40 to 4:50 PM available to join the Zoom in real time.


You are a bit of a schedule fanatic.


True, but also I feel more accountable, therefore, more attentive, if I am present and observable by others in real time.


Real time? Is that a business writing thing, like the opposite of pretend time?


Shoot, I keep forgetting the two of you, though you help with the blog, aren’t really in the swing of things in the digital world. Computers, I mean.


Like on Star Trek?


Close enough, though it’s both simpler and more complicated than that these days.


It’s not just attending the class, you have homework, as well?


Yes. Two types of homework each week, due 11:59 P every Monday. The first type is answering a series of discussion questions and posting them on the class website. You can’t get full credit unless you make at least one substantive comment on what someone else has written. Last week, before the class started, we were assigned a series of “getting to know you” questions. It was a neat opportunity to learn why other people are taking the class, plus “one thing” most people don’t know about them, and finding common threads that have absolutely nothing to do with wine writing.


This week’s questions are about the elements of good writing discussed in Tuesday’s class, and are responses to an assigned article. A perfect and timely opportunity to put classroom theory into practice!


Wine writing homework. For me, this requires writing things by hand first and distilling it down. . .



The second homework assignment is about editing. Write a piece on anything about yourself that is not related to the wine industry, editing down through a four-tiered process from 300-350 words to four to six bullets while capturing the essence of the idea each time. Sounds to me like the process of distilling wine into brandy.


This is business writing. Don’t go all whimsical on us.


I turned in the discussion homework yesterday morning and am really looking forward to doing the other one today. And over the weekend. And probably giving it another look on Monday before turning it in. Because in both fiction and business writing, good writing is good editing.


Speaking of good, spring has presented a piece of welcome news. After 3 years of waiting, viable asparagus spears are at last emerging in our garden!


Wine writing: Which varietal pairs well with asparagus?



And maybe that’s what I’ll write about. . .

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